28: Just Dessert?

on July 11, 2007 in 02: Love In The Time Of Magic

In Which Mackenzie Agrees To Something She’s Unsure Of

My last class of the day seemed to be the only one where the instructor believed in teaching from a textbook. That was okay with me, as it was the most complex and exacting of the classes I’d be taking that semester. Logic was an integral part of applied enchantment, but at times, it could seem to almost border on science… which might have been why it appealed to me so much. The downside to the class was that Sooni was in it, too, along with her neko Maliko.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. She was also an applied enchantments major, and the logic class was only offered in two sections a semester. Still, I just knew that two classes in one day with Sooni would not be fun.

Steff wasn’t in our lounge when the class wrapped up. I wasn’t sure what year she was in, but I peeked quickly at the lounges for the other three floors of girls’ dorms without success. I guessed she was either in her room or off using one of the study facilities.

Amaranth was also nowhere to be found. I figured that she was “working” over on the boys’ side, but then I ran into her outside the residence hall when I headed over to the student union for dinner… alone, as I couldn’t find any of our group. She was bringing Two back towards Harlowe, leading her by the hand like a lost child… which, I suppose, Two sort of was.

“Look who I found!” she said, holding up the golem girl’s hand. “She was headed for the labyrinth, of all places.”

“Why were you going there?” I asked.

“I was instructed to get lost,” she said. It might have been my imagination, or my desire to see her as a person more than an enchanted object that happened to be made out of flesh, but there was a hint of sadness in her voice.

“By who?” Amaranth asked.

Two’s lip began to tremble. Within moments, her whole body had began to shake.

“Disregard the previous question,” I said. She relaxed. “Were you ordered not to say?” She began shaking again. “Disregard previous question!” I said quickly. “Somebody’s being really nasty, I think.”

“Two, honey, don’t do anything that whoever told you to get lost tells you to do,” Amaranth said gently. “Got it?”

“Got it,” Two said.

I started to protest, but it came out as a little noise from the back of my throat.

“Is something wrong with how I said it?” Amaranth asked.

“Um… kind of,” I said. “See, if she’s ordered not to do anything that somebody says, that means they could still mess with her… by telling her to do something she should be doing anyway. The person would have to figure out what’s going on, but if they noticed Two wasn’t following their orders and got creative, they could really screw her up.”

“Okay,” Amaranth said. “Um, disregard my previous instruction, hon.”

“Okay,” Two said.

“Ignore any orders from the person who ordered you to get lost,” I said. “Okay?”


“That’s kind of what I said, isn’t it?” Amaranth said. She sounded just a little bit irritated, which flustered me.

“Well, no… she can… I mean, you can ignore somebody and still…” I stammered. I took a breath, cleared my head, and said, “If you literally ignore something, you don’t let it affect you one way or another.”

“Oh, yeah, I see.” Amaranth said. “Oh, and Two… please ignore any orders to counter Mack’s orders. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she said.

“I don’t… that’s not fair,” I said. “Nobody should have that kind of power over her!”

“It’s either somebody or everybody,” Amaranth said.

“Two, forget th…” I started, but Amaranth was quicker.

Stepping behind me, she threw her arm around me and covered my mouth with her hand… incidentally pulling the back of my head into her cleavage… and saying “Disregard any attempts to undo my last order,” she said. “Even… especially from Mack.”

She let go of me. The damage was done. Two was now operating under instructions not to let anybody counter my orders, but that wouldn’t help me convince her to ignore a standing order she’d been ordered not to remove. Damn, this was getting complicated… I thought of the flow charts in my logic textbook. Maybe I should start mapping out the orders Two had been given, and thinking up new ones in advance instead of just throwing them out when a new problem came up.

“Hey, wait up!” Steff’s now-familiar voice called from behind as we headed towards the union. After not being able to find her again all afternoon, I’d started to think she hadn’t been serious about eating with us.

“Hey, Steff,” Amaranth said, giving her a kiss on the cheek… Steff returned it with a full-on, lips-and-tongue kiss which Amaranth happily reciprocated. I looked away uncomfortably.

“Oh, I love your glasses,” the half-elf said when they broke away. “I didn’t get a good look at them the other day. Are they… real?”

“They sure are,” Amaranth said, smiling radiantly. I stared at her glasses, puzzled… were they real what? Glasses? I guess I could understand the question, as there was definitely something off about them. The eyepieces were thick, and kind of curved, and they made her eyes look funny.

“Hey, sweetie, my tits are down here,” Amaranth said, pushing down on my forehead until my gaze was at its normal level… which was only incidentally chest-high. “Anybody seen Celia?”

“I couldn’t find her,” I said.

“Oh, that’s ’cause she was over on the other side… heading off to Fin’s room, last I saw her,” Steff said. “He’s, like, the unofficial potions master of Harlowe Hall. I think she’s blowin’ him for haste, or something.”

Celia?!?” I asked, shocked. After three days (was it really only three days?) at MU, the mere idea of oral sex… or of sexual favors being exchanged for other-than-romantic purposes… wasn’t totally unbelievable to me, but Celia had seemed very put off by anything having to do with mammalian reproductive systems. Then again, I didn’t know what race this Fin or Finbar was…

“I swear, I was going by his room and I heard him telling her to open wide if she wanted more,” Steff said, shrugging. “I’d bet she’d be really good at it, with that jaw of hers… but then, there’s the teeth to worry about. What a way to go, huh?”

“Yeah,” I said, desperately trying not to think about it. “Hey, Steff… you remember in history class, how the professor didn’t use a title with your name?”

“It’s really not a big deal,” Steff said. “None of my professors ever use the honorific… in fact, last year in my necro lecture, the poor guy was so flustered that he just never called on me.”

“What do you mean, flustered?” I asked. I could imagine an inexperienced teacher being thrown off by an ogrish or goblin student, but as far as I knew, half-elves were really no big deal. “What’s there to be flustered over?”

“Wow, Mack, I appreciate your zeal… I really do,” she said. “But it’s not worth getting worked up over. There’s no way I could go to class dressed the way I do and not expect some sort of reaction, even if it’s just teachers who aren’t sure how they’re supposed to address me.”

“According to the rules, they’re supposed to use formal address, period,” I said. “And there’s nothing wrong that I can see with the way you dress.”

“Oh, you are such a sweetheart!” Steff said, suddenly hugging me very tightly and only increasing my confusion. “With that attitude, you’re going to make an awesome student senator for your floor.”

“Uh, thanks,” I said. I looked at Amaranth, who was smiling a slightly amused smile, but she just shrugged.

Barley, the other cereal nymph, was waiting at the entrance to the dining hall. The cashier reminded me I was now out of punches as we went in. That made me think of something.

“Where’s Puddy?” I asked. I had been slightly relieved when she hadn’t show up at lunch, but now I was starting to get concerned.

“She and Mariel went into town to do a little shopping after their last classes,” Barley said. “Last I heard they were planning on coming back here for dinner, but they might have stopped at a restaurant… you know how much Puddy likes to eat out.”

“I thought she only ate her pudding pops,” I said. I caught the innuendo a second after I’d finished talking, and hid my reddening face in my hands.

“You are so damned cute,” Steff said.

“Isn’t she?” Amaranth said. I could tell by her voice she was beaming, which just made my face hotter.

“Anyway, they asked me along,” Barley said. “I asked if you’d be coming, too, and Puddy said no… well, I’ve enjoyed messing around with Puddy and Mariel, but I’ve kind of been wanting to get to know you better.”

“Puddy… didn’t want me there?” I asked. It felt like a slap.

“Guess not,” Barley said, shrugging.

“Go get your food, honey,” Amaranth said, nudging Two in the direction of the service counters.

“She’s heading for the pudding first,” I said, and started to go after her, but Amaranth grabbed my sleeve.

“Oh, let her,” she said. “She’s got to eat a balanced meal. Does the order she gets it in really matter?”

I thought about it, and shrugged. I guess it really didn’t. With that thought in mind, I realized I hadn’t tried to eat anything myself since throwing up a part of a doughnut on Saturday. I hadn’t fed my true hunger, either, so my body was acutely aware that it needed sustenance… I was in a pretty position to trick it into accepting something that I wanted to eat, if I could avoid anything upsetting my stomach.

With that in mind, I got a small sugar cone with vanilla ice cream. I knew I probably wouldn’t make it to the cone, but it was somehow more satisfying than a dish would have been. Wasteful, I knew, but it was best not to dwell on that. The whole thing was wasteful.

I liked doughnuts better than ice cream, but ice cream was so much less substantial. You didn’t even really eat it… you could just sort of lick at it. Like Puddy and her performance with the doughnuts… or like… like…

That line of thought pretty much ended my interest in the ice cream, before the others even joined me at our table in the corner. I’d grabbed the end of the bench nearest the wall, and Amaranth sat next to me. She put an arm around behind me, as Puddy had done, but instead of pulling me in close to her, she just kind of rested her arm there, barely touching me. It was kind of comforting, and kind of made me wish she would hold me tighter.

Barley and Steff ended up in the chairs, Steff just beating Barley to the one across from me. I don’t think she noticed that it was a race. I don’t think anybody did except for me, and Barley herself. Amaranth had said nymphs don’t get jealous. I wasn’t sure that was true.

Not that there was anything for Barley to be jealous of, where Amaranth was concerned. We were friends… very good friends, I thought, though I wasn’t exactly adrift in a sea of examples for comparison.

Two sat down on the bench beside Amaranth on the other side, with a salad, a fruit cup, a chicken breast, and a bowl full of vanilla pudding she’d topped with sprinkles from the ice cream station. She was getting creative; that was interesting. I had to admit, Puddy seemed to have had a good idea insisting that Two always eat dessert… that’s where most of her real progress had shown up so far.

While I thought about Two, Amaranth and Steff were talking animatedly… I wasn’t really paying attention but I caught snatches about a “circle meeting” and something about “drawing the moon”, if I even heard it right.

“Yeah, we’ll totally be there,” Amaranth said. “Right, Mack?”

“Um, yeah, definitely,” I said, wondering what I was agreeing to, and hoping it wasn’t, for instance, group sex. Which reminded me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of. “So, Steff… um… who exactly is that Viktor guy you were talking about?” I asked, not sure I really wanted to know, but needing to, anyway. After Amaranth and I had… kissed, she’d told me to remember that she was still a nymph and always would be. I hadn’t understood at the time, but I was starting to.

“Oh, he’s my honey,” Steff said.

“Your boyfriend?” I asked.

“My prime,” she said. At my confused look, she clarified. “Primary lover… and I’m his. We’re both poly.”

“Polly?” I repeated, not understanding.

“Polyamorous,” Amaranth said. She added, “Basically, having many lovers,” though I’d pretty much worked that out for myself. “Anyway, Mack, you met Viktor… sort of. You were kind of staring at Rorick at the time, though. Remember the half-ogre?”

I sure did… I felt my insides tightening involuntarily with the memory. Rorick the faun had been my first experience with seeing an erect male in living color, outside a tiny image inside a crystal ball. I’d been… I’ll say “overwhelmed”… by the sight of what I later found out was pretty much an average-sized man. The half-ogre beside him had obviously been a few magnitudes larger in that department, though thankfully restrained and hidden from direct sight by the rather un-faunish invention of pants.

“Anyway, Steff, we have to do that again sometime… Viktor was incredible,” Amaranth said. She hugged herself, shivering in remembered delight. “It was the next best thing to being raped to death by an actual ogre. I’d love to see what he’s like when he really cuts loose.”

“Oh, honey, I don’t know if he’s got any more to give than he gave you,” Steff said. “I thought he got pretty rough with me, but he really went to town on your ass.”

“Oh, he was a sweetheart, all right, but I could tell he was holding back,” Amaranth said, smiling tranquilly at the image. Her gaze fell on me, and that smile became a frown. “Mack, are you okay, honey?”

I’d actually been experiencing the (increasingly familiar) sensation that I was drowning in other peoples’ kinks, but it was more than that… the words “next best thing to being raped to death” were marching up and down through my brain, scuffing up the walls and floors and rearranging the furniture.

“I’m, um… would you really enjoy being raped to death?” I asked her.

“Well…” she said, drawing the word out as if she wasn’t quite sure how to answer. “I figure that’s one of the things you can’t really know until you’ve tried it, you know? I’m definitely curious about it, though. There can’t be much else in the world that feels like it does.”

“So is there even any difference between being a masochist and being suicidal, then?” I’d always considered an affinity for pain to be something like a borderline mental illness. Finding out Amaranth… patient, loving, and normally wise Amaranth… enjoyed hurting herself and being hurt had started me re-evaluating that attitude… but now I wasn’t so sure.

“Not all masochists take it to the extreme I do, no… or even most,” she said. “For instance, I don’t think you would enjoy Viktor’s level of… attention, even from a woman… and even those who do, don’t usually indulge themselves outside of illusions or fantasies. Being immortal, I can safely experience things that others only dream about.”

“You may be immortal, but you’re not indestructible,” Barley said. “You’re supposed to be the smart one. What are you going to do if you end up too far gone to heal yourself, and I’m not there?”

“Please, credit me with some self-control,” Amaranth said. “I can rein it in when I really need to.”

“Don’t sweat it, anyway… last year, I was over at student healing every couple weeks with a torn this or dislocated that,” Steff said dismissively. “They aren’t supposed to ask questions, but I imagine they’ve got some interesting theories about my personal life.” She giggled. “Some of which may be more exciting than the truth.”

“I don’t want you to die,” I said numbly. Everybody else–even Barley–was being fairly blasé about it, but I was horrified by the thought of Amaranth… of her… I didn’t want her to die. I just didn’t. I was starting to fear that every time she went off with some guy, or every time she simply wasn’t around, I was going to have horrible images in my head.

“Oh, Mack,” she said, putting her hand over mine and smiling serenely. “You have to understand, there’s more to me than just this shell, this body… even if I do die, if this body is destroyed… it won’t be the end of me. I’ll just have gone… home.”

I thought that kind of religious talk was more or less cold comfort to those of us who would be left behind… and weren’t especially certain about anything in the spiritual planes… but then Barley spoke up.

“Yeah, and then you’ll miss half the quarter catching coaches to get back here,” she said. “And then where will you be?”

“Wait,” I said. “When you say ‘home’, what exactly do you mean?”

“I mean I’ll depart my mortal shell and wake up in Paradise,” Amaranth said. My heart stopped beating. She paused before going on. “Paradise Valley, that is. Where our fields are. And I won’t miss half the quarter, either, Barley… it only took us five days to get here!” She turned and looked at me, giggling. “Khee whiz, Mack, you’ve gone white as a ghost.”

“You… you did that on purpose,” I said as my heart restarted.

“Well, I did say I’d punish you,” she said with a grin.

“I thought you were going to spank me or something!” I said… “said” here having the meaning of “shouted.”

Instantly, there was the twin sound of clattering forks and plates and conversations dying away from all around us. I dropped my head down to the table, unable to meet anybody’s gaze.

“So, you want to be spanked, then?” Amaranth said coyly. In just a few days, I’d learned her moods and expressions so well that I could picture her looking down, over the rims of her glasses, as she said this.

My body shuddered.

She drew me up into her arms and pulled me onto her lap, like Puddy had done… but not at all like Puddy had done. My eyes were squeezed shut, but I was once again very aware of her nudity… not just nudity, but nakedness. Her arms wrapped tight around me, and I felt an extremely disconcerting and wonderful combination of utter security and total humiliation.

“Oh, she is just too fucking precious!” Steff said. “Where can I get one of my own?”

“Sorry,” Amaranth said, a little wistfully. “I think they only made the one.”

“And lucky you, you’ve got her all to yourself,” Barley said sourly.

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4 Responses to “28: Just Dessert?”

  1. BMeph says:

    The pedant in me wants to tell Mack that she was aware of Amaranth’s nudity and her own nakedness…but I digress.

    Current score: 0
  2. Jake says:

    I am becoming more & more intrigued with Two. I’m beginning to see where she can end up being a Lot of fun as far as storyline goes.

    I think that Amaranth needs some spanking of her own but i think she would like it too much.

    Current score: 0
  3. Psi-Ko says:

    I’m loving the contrast between Puddy and Amaranth, there really is a huge difference between affectionate and lustful. Being a bit of a masochist myself, there’s a huge difference between injuring yourself like a stubbed toe, and being injured by a partner in the… heat of the moment?

    I am slightly apprehensive as to how the view of Mackenzie is between her friends and the public. Steff herself said “She is too fucking precious” which makes me think of Mack as only a bit more than one of Sooni’s “friends” but with genuine affection. How is a plaything supposed to be the leader of the dorm floor?

    In other news: Damn you, alexandria! I have enough problems with insomnia already without enthralling stories to help!

    Current score: 0
  4. Lythar says:

    Man, reading this all again for the… Third time maybe? I got lost halfway through my second time and lost my place, and decided to start over, and I am STILL convinced that, at the start, Mack is by far the LEAST observant person I’ve ever seen in writing.

    Gotta agree with Steff here, Mack IS too cute.

    Current score: 0